Victor Gustav Bloede (1849-1937)

Between his birth in Germany and his death eighty-eight years later in Catonsville, Maryland, Victor Bloede became an eminent chemist and the proprietor of his flagship enterprise, the Baltimore-based Victor G. Bloede Company. Bloese was a real-estate developer, a banker, the founder of a construction company, a gentleman farmer, an advocate for issues of public concern, and a generous philanthropist.

Updated: August 28, 2014

Introduction

The eventful life of Victor Gustav Bloede (born March 14, 1849 in Dresden, Saxony; died March 27, 1937 in Catonsville, MD) began amidst the throes of revolution in the Old World and ended peacefully in affluence and prominence in the New World. Between his birth in Germany and his death eighty-eight years later in Catonsville, Maryland, Bloede became an eminent chemist; the proprietor of numerous chemical companies, including his flagship enterprise, the Baltimore-based Victor G. Bloede Company; a real-estate developer; a banker; the founder of a construction company, a water utility, a trolley line, and an electric utility; a gentleman farmer; an advocate for issues of public concern; a generous philanthropist who donated both money and time to a wide variety of charities; and a devoted husband, father, and grandfather. Although Bloede achieved success in a wide variety of fields, he is best remembered today for his pioneering contributions to industrial chemistry and chemical engineering. Over the course of his career, he was granted approximately thirty patents, the most important of which pertained to the manufacture of starch adhesives and “sun-fast” textile dyes. The superiority of Bloede’s adhesives was attested to by the U.S. Postal Service, which awarded him a decades-long commission to provide all the glue used for postage stamps. His “sun-fast” dyes, which allowed for dyed fabric that would not fade on exposure to sunlight, won numerous awards and had a profound and lasting impact on the textile industry.

Family and Ethnic Background

Victor Gustav Bloede was born in Dresden, Saxony, on March 14, 1849. He was descended from two well-established professional families. His paternal grandfather, Carl August Bloede (1773-1820) had been a chemist and mineralogist (he discovered the mineral bloedite) and an official of the Saxon Treasury Department.[1] His maternal grandfather was a judge in Breslau under the Prussian government.[2]

Bloede's father, Gustav (1814-88), was a lawyer and politician whose liberal inclinations drew him into the tumultuous events that engulfed Germany in 1848 and 1849. Years later, Victor’s mother, Marie (née von Sallet) Bloede (1821-70), would tell him, “your lullabies were the rattle of musketry, and the patter of bullets upon the fronts and roofs of our and the adjoining houses, all the front windows of which were piled up with mattresses to keep out the stray bullets."[3] The fighting to which she referred had been precipitated by a series of events over the course of roughly a year. In 1848, the pan-German Frankfurt National Assembly (of which Gustav Bloede was a member)[4] had come together as an elected body and proposed a liberal constitution for a united Germany, but their plan depended on the acceptance of an imperial crown by Prussia's King Frederick William IV. When Frederick William balked, liberals from various jurisdictions began to agitate for local acceptance of the proposed constitution to bring it into force, if only in piecemeal fashion.[5] The Saxon Diet approved the constitution, but King Frederick Augustus II was not persuaded. In late April 1849, he dismissed the Diet and appointed a conservative administration. In Dresden, his actions unleashed increasing clamor on behalf of the constitution, and on May 3, 1849, barricades began to appear in the streets. The first blood was shed that day when troops at an arsenal fired on pro-constitutionalists who were attempting to seize arms. Later that night the alarmed Saxon monarch withdrew from Dresden to a fortress some twenty miles away. A provisional government was proclaimed the next day, but efforts to organize a military defense were ineffective. A few days later, the uprising was crushed by Prussian troops who had been called in by Frederick Augustus II. The bloodshed was substantial. Clara Schumann, the pianist and composer, passed through Dresden several times during the conflict, and her diary records the sight of fourteen dead bodies arrayed in the courtyard of a hospital and "thousands of holes made by bullets in the houses."[6] Hundreds were killed in the fighting, hundreds more wounded, and thousands were arrested for revolutionary activities.[7]

One of those implicated was Gustav Bloede, who, in addition to being a member of the Frankfurt National Assembly, was also a member of the Dresden City Council.[8] His prominence in Dresden was evidenced by a sour comment made by none other than composer Richard Wagner, who noted that “a certain lawyer named Bloede” was being honored in the city as a “modern ... Demosthenes.”[9] Wagner fled Saxony before he could be arrested for his own role in the events in Dresden, but Gustav Bloede was not so fortunate. He was arrested, charged with treason, and given a ten-year sentence.[10] Like thousands of others, however, he was able to escape, and the Bloedes eventually made their way to the United States in August of 1850.[11]

Gustav Bloede concluded that his legal training in Germany was of limited use in America, so he decided to study medicine at Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia. The family ultimately settled in Brooklyn, New York, where Dr. Bloede established a practice. To supplement his income, he also took up journalism, becoming editor of the German-language New Yorker Demokrat; he contributed to other publications as well.[12] Like many other German “Forty-Eighters,” Dr. Bloede allied himself with the Republican Party, and his name turns up from time to time in stories about the reformist Republican faithful.[13]

Marie Bloede occasionally assisted her husband’s medical work – an 1861 newspaper advertisement notes that both she and Dr. Bloede would be in attendance at gymnasium-style orthopedic classes for ladies[14] – but she became better known for her artistic undertakings. Marie had grown up in a cultured and literary family in Breslau. One of her three brothers was the famous revolutionary poet Friedrich von Sallet (1812-43). During her adulthood in America, she continued to cultivate the interest in art and literature that had first developed in Germany during her youth. Under her own name (Marie or Mary Bloede) or under the pen name Marie Westland, she taught piano, wrote music, and produced poems, stories, and translations in both German and English. Evidently, Marie Bloede’s literary activity and warm personality turned the Bloede household into something of a regular salon for a number of well-known writers and artists.[15]

In addition to Victor Gustav, the Bloede family in America included three daughters, Gertrude, Kate, and Indiana.[16] Unfortunately, their financial situation was far from prosperous. When Dr. Bloede sought a house in Brooklyn, he chose a large property to allow for boarders to help with the mortgage;[17] as late as 1878, Dr. Bloede was still occasionally advertising “a pleasant room with board for one or two single gentlemen in a strictly private family where German is spoken.”[18] Later in life, Victor Gustav Bloede commented that when he began working (at age eleven or twelve) his intention was to serve as a breadwinner, to make a contribution to the family finances.[19] Work did not prevent him from attending school, however. In fact, it was his work at a photographer’s studio, together with his schooling, that ignited his interest in chemistry. By 1862, at age thirteen, Bloede was putting on a “wonders of chemistry” demonstration at his father’s office for other children in his neighborhood. Admission was twenty-five cents for all four nights or ten cents for a single evening’s show, and he was reportedly delighted with the revenue his performances generated.[20] He also impregnated corn cobs with chemicals that caused the cobs to crackle and ignite in brilliant colors in a fireplace, and he peddled this entertaining fuel around Brooklyn at a considerable profit.[21]

By the time the ambitious young chemist had turned fifteen, he was ready to enroll in the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. The Cooper Union was the enduring legacy of Peter Cooper, the visionary inventor and businessman best known for building “Tom Thumb,” the first steam engine to run on the first full-scale American railroad, the Baltimore & Ohio. Despite his immense success as an inventor and entrepreneur – and his great wealth – Cooper had always felt hampered by his lack of formal education, and the Union aimed to help ambitious but poor young students acquire the kind of education that he himself would have liked. Classes were free of charge, and they were offered at night so that promising “mechanics” who worked during the day could attend.[22]

The course, which involved a “thorough system of study, recitation and drill,” was extremely demanding.[23] For example, during one of Bloede’s years at Cooper Union, 1,571 students enrolled in evening classes, but only 958 of them made it to the end of the term. Of the 958, only 646 received certificates of course completion, and even fewer received “first grade” certificates testifying to “superior qualifications” in the subject matter.[24] Bloede earned first grade certificates in each of the three courses he is known to have taken (elementary chemistry, analytical chemistry, and organic chemistry).[25]

By the time Bloede completed his studies at Cooper Union in 1867, the foundation had been laid for his long and distinguished career as a chemist. It is also important to note, however, that his experience at the Union provided him with an influential role model for other aspects of his later life – Peter Cooper himself. Cooper was a constant presence at Cooper Union throughout Bloede’s years there,[26] and the two were personally acquainted. Years later, Bloede cited Cooper as the model for many of his own endeavors in life, and there are indeed striking parallels in their careers as inventors, as businessmen in a variety of types of enterprises, as participants in debates on public issues, and as philanthropists.[27]

Business Development as a “Manufacturing Chemist”

Since the Bloede family was not in a position to help Victor Gustav at the outset of his professional career, he had to proceed solely on the basis of ingenuity and hard work. He found employment quickly – first as an assistant instructor at Cooper Union, then at a chemical plant in Brooklyn[28] – but it was two other remarkable accomplishments that clearly demonstrated Bloede’s capable and enterprising nature.

The first accomplishment was Bloede’s first patent, issued in February 1867, when the youthful inventor had not yet turned eighteen. The patent (Letters Patent No. 61,991) covered the production of a white gum, or glue, from wheat starch by treating the starch with nitric and hydrochloric acids. The patent was the first of many that Bloede would receive for his work in starch chemistry. The gum was suitable for mounting photographs, but it also had other uses in offices and commercial establishments. Subsequent advertising for “Bloede’s Mucilage” noted that it “wouldn’t sour and stink the place up” but would “stick like a poor relation and keep in all climates.”[29] Bloede sold the patent rights to Columbia Chemical Works of Brooklyn for $500.00 plus a 5% royalty on the profits. In light of Bloede’s age, his father had to countersign the contract.[30]

The second accomplishment came just two months later, in May 1867, when Bloede published The Reducer's Manual and Gold and Silver Worker’s Guide in New York and London.[31] Bloede had just turned eighteen when the work appeared, and the 165-page publication is extraordinary for someone so young. Building on his work in the photography studio and on his academic training (the book is dedicated to his professor at Cooper Union), The Reducer’s Manual offers extensive practical guidance on recovering valuable metals from spent photographic materials in an era when photographers routinely handled chemicals in preparing emulsions for photographic plates and in processing images in their darkrooms.

The book betrays the marks of youth: it is occasionally preachy, the author's infatuation with his own learning is unmistakable in his critique of the course of alchemy during the Middle Ages, and the overwriting is occasionally spectacular. For the most part, however, the book provides down-to-earth, step-by-step descriptions of processes by which a photographer interested in controlling costs could recover and re-use expensive chemicals. It is unclear how much Bloede earned from this publication, but it appears to have circulated widely, and it certainly contributed to his professional reputation.

Over the next several years, the young chemist worked for several chemical companies in Brooklyn and entered into a partnership to manufacture photographic chemicals.[32] He also took out several new patents. Not every youthful enthusiasm yielded success, however. For example, a wintergreen farm that he purchased to supply a particular raw material to pharmaceutical companies seems to have come to nothing,[33] and Bloede later recalled at least one failed chemical process that blew the roof off a building where he worked.[34] Nonetheless, the young chemist acquired experience and broadened the scope of his ambitions.

In 1873, Bloede moved to Pomeroy, Ohio.[35] The area was a center for salt production from salt springs, and one waste product of the process was water rich in dissolved minerals, particularly bromine. Bloede became a small-scale bromine producer. He also became a consultant to Oakes & Rathbone, a firm in Parkersburg, West Virginia, that produced sulfuric acid for bromine distillers. By 1875, the firm had become Bloede & Rathbone. Since Bloede had sold his bromine to German manufacturers of aniline dyes, he came into contact with American textile manufacturers who purchased German dyes. As a result, Bloede & Rathbone decided to build upon Bloede's chemistry expertise to extend their product line into various basic chemicals used widely in the textile industry.

Evidently, Bloede and Rathbone were able to sell their basic chemicals profitably. Still, they knew that aniline dyes – which had begun to revolutionize cloth dyeing in the 1850s, but which were still generally available only from German or English firms – offered much higher profit margins. Thus, “the idea suggested itself that our firm might make millions by taking up the manufacture of aniline and aniline dyes, and we at once proceeded to develop this project.”[36]

The “millions” Bloede anticipated proved elusive. Neither Bloede nor Rathbone knew much about the aniline dye business, and they faced numerous difficulties in mastering the necessary processes. First, where to find an adequate supply of “light oils”? These were a waste product of coal tar distilleries and gas plants, and not every such facility was willing to go through the trouble of putting the oil in barrels for young Bloede and his partner.

Second, the oil itself – once acquired – was a highly heterogeneous mixture of a wide variety of chemical species, only one of which, benzene, was needed for the aniline process. To address the problem of benzene extraction, Bloede and Rathbone turned to James A. Moffett, an executive with Standard Oil in Parkersburg and an expert in the distillation of crude oil. Moffett became the third investor, along with Bloede and Rathbone, in American Aniline Works, and he also provided expertise in benzene extraction. Moreover, he gave the fledgling firm access to a Standard Oil junk pile containing salvageable parts that could be used to cobble together a processing facility. The firm repurposed an old boiler shell into a nitrator, the device in which benzene would be mixed with nitric acid to form nitrobenzene. Bloede was apprehensive about using a device ten times the size recommended by German texts on aniline processes, but Moffett insisted on attempting large-scale production from the outset.

The matter was compromised by erecting our boiler nitrator in a deep gulley somewhat remote from what was to be the central plant, the cock controlling the flow of acid to the nitrator being operated by a wire from a distance of several hundred feet. A thermometer was inserted through the shell of the old boiler [which was cooled by spring water running over it], and it was the duty of a solitary operator from time to time to dash sufficiently close to read the scale and then immediately to sprint back to safety. I will never forget the morning the first charge was made in this huge nitrator, the operation of which I, as the chief chemist of the enterprise, was to impart to the operator as well as supervise – a job which I regarded with the utmost concern. I have often since admired the courage of ignorance which makes such trials possible, for this crude apparatus was the only one the American Aniline Works ever put up which functioned properly and economically....[37]

The partners eventually succeeded in turning their hard-won nitrobenzene into a trickle of aniline – only to discover that their product was of limited value because “there was practically no market for aniline oil in the United States and certainly not at prices that would enable us to compete with the German product.”[38]

Undaunted, the three partners resolved to turn their aniline – a feedstock for the manufacture of textile dyes – into the dyes themselves. However, the procedures for making aniline dyes were closely guarded by the German and English companies that had developed them. Bloede, Rathbone, and Moffett had scoured the scientific and commercial literature for information on aniline before beginning their operations, but they soon realized how little practical information was available from works whose titles Bloede jokingly recalled as The Entire Art of Aniline Color Manufacturing in a Nutshell or Every Man His Own Aniline Color Maker.[39] Therefore, they sought an English or German consultant who could assist them.

After posting an advertisement in England, they recruited a correspondent with the appropriate credentials. However, all he furnished to the trio was a manifesto that “appeared at first sight to be copies of Babylonian tablets from the British Museum, consisting mainly of page upon page of figures and groups of squares and circles, which he advised us were the chemical formulas involved in the processes of manufacture. We had no reason at that time to doubt the gentleman's veracity, but to us these hieroglyphics were as meaningless as the inscription on Cleopatra's needle....”[40]

The partners’ German advertisement was also a spectacular failure. It ran once in a trade publication and resulted in the publisher of the paper being charged with conspiracy to obtain trade secrets. “What finally became of the poor publisher of the paper we never learned, but the amount we had paid in advance for the advertisement was confiscated, and we were warned that a life sentence in a German ‘Zuchthaus’ awaited any member of our firm who was caught trying to enter the German domain."[41]

There was nothing to do but return to the scant, secretive literature on aniline dyes and scan it for clues that might lead to a useful product. The firm was able to produce fuchsin (also called fuchsine or magenta), which is used as a dye and disinfectant, and the company continued to sell its basic aniline oil, but attempts to produce other colors were abortive.

It is hardly necessary to add the humiliating admission that the enterprise was not a profitable one. We simply carried it along because we did not want to give it up, our faith still being strong that somewhere along the line millions could be unearthed.[42]

But if American Aniline Works was a disappointment, then Bloede & Rathbone’s basic operations were apparently much more successful. The works were rebuilt with borrowed money after a disastrous fire in 1877,[43] and the firm eventually grew to employ some 300 workers.[44] However, it only lasted until 1884, when another disaster – a catastrophic flood of the Little Kanawha River – swept it all away.[45]

Rather than rebuild a second time, Bloede moved to Baltimore, where he had previously established the Caton Manufacturing Company. As with his earlier bromine and aniline operations, Caton was built on a waste product – Bloede made ink from the carbon black that was disposed of by other Baltimore industries.[46]

Soon enough, however, the Caton Manufacturing Company was dwarfed by a multiplicity of additional enterprises that Bloede spawned, beginning with the company to which he devoted the bulk of his time for the rest of his life. This was the Victor G. Bloede Company, established on land that Bloede bought in southwest Baltimore. The firm – “Manufacturing Chemists” – used the slogan “Manufactured under Chemical Control.” It is not clear how many hands the firm had, but the laboratory alone employed a staff of five in addition to Bloede himself,[47] and at least eight large buildings were erected on the site. Some of these were used by the Bloede firm, but some were occasionally leased to large customers who used Bloede products.[48] Additionally, trade journals noted that major expansions were made to the facility in 1916 and 1930.[49] The Bloede Company or the affiliated Caton Manufacturing Company continued to produce the ink that had originally brought Bloede to Baltimore, but his product line grew over time, and several subsidiaries were established to encompass the full range of the firm’s activities. For example, an entry for a 1917 trade show exhibition mentions not just the Bloede Company, but its subsidiaries as well:

VICTOR G. BLOEDE CO., Baltimore Finishing Co., Viscamite Co., Baltimore, Md. Gums, dextrines, dyes, chemicals and colors [ . . . ]. Dyers and finishers of cotton fabrics. Specializing in khaki, clothing, wigans starch finishes and general finishes for cotton clothing cloth. Viscamite, patented vegetable glue to replace animal glue.[50]

The firm also produced sizings and starches.[51] None of its products was aimed at individual consumers, however; the target audience was large-scale enterprises – the U.S. government or manufacturers of paper, stationery products, cardboard products, furniture, plywood, and textiles. The firm employed its own salesmen, but it also used sales agencies that represented multiple firms.[52] The energetic and personable Bloede was active in making contacts through chemistry-related technical associations, and the firm exhibited at trade shows devoted to the various industries served by the Victor G. Bloede Company.

Throughout the firm’s existence, however, its success depended on the technical insight of its founder, as reflected in the patents he secured for a variety of products and processes over the years. During the 1880s and 1890s, dyes and textile processes dominated his work. Thereafter, he made noteworthy contributions to the field in which his first patent was granted, the development of starch-derived adhesives.

Bloede’s development of sun-fast dyes based on mineral pigments offers interesting insights into the scientific method. Bloede’s work with textiles led cotton producers to contact him about removing stains from “sanded cotton” – cotton bolls that had been stained when they fell on the ground prior to harvest. Bloede came to compare the problem to “the rusty nail problem” because the stains from iron-rich soils were essentially the same as the stain left on a cloth from contact with a rusty nail. Bloede never solved the original problem, but the tenacious stains made him realize that there was something in the crystalline structure of the iron compound that fastened it mechanically to the cotton fiber – and that a dye utilizing this property would be as irremovable as rust stains. A series of subsequent experiments led to the discovery of a variety of compounds of various metals (iron, manganese, aluminum, chromium, and silicon) that adhered tenaciously to textile fibers. Furthermore, when these compounds were mixed with certain dyes, the metallic compounds appeared to bind both to the textile fiber and to the dye. The result was dyed fabric that would not fade on exposure to sunlight.[53] Bloede patented the discovery in 1888 (Letters Patent No. 394,446)[54] and received medals for his accomplishment (Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1889; World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893; Franklin Institute, 1894).[55] By 1894, a million yards of sun-fast fabric was being produced annually.[56] Some forty years later, Bloede noted with satisfaction that the process “gave rise to a very profitable industry [that is] still flourishing.”[57]

Of the thirty patents known to have been issued to Bloede, eleven related to starch-based adhesives – gums and glues. These starch-based products gradually displaced natural gums (e.g., Gum Arabic) and animal-derived glues (such as those manufactured by Peter Cooper) in binding books, manufacturing envelopes, and making furniture and plywood. Bloede's first patent (1867) was the first U.S. patent relating to the production of an adhesive from a starch base.[58] He was granted numerous additional patents (1895, 1916, 1918, 1919, 1920, 1921) in the area of starch-based adhesives and became widely recognized as an expert. His talks before trade groups were sometimes reprinted as pamphlets for wider circulation.[59] In 1928, when a massive technical work entitled A Comprehensive Survey of Starch Chemistry was published,[60] it featured a chapter by Bloede that was still regarded as an excellent survey of the topic a decade later.[61] When a review article about starch adhesives appeared in Chemical and Engineering News in 1944, only two of 147 inventors named in a list of relevant patent holders had more patents than Bloede.[62]

Perhaps the greatest compliment Bloede's adhesives ever received, however, was the practical approval of the U.S. Post Office, which gave him a decades-long commission to provide all the glue used for postage stamps. Bloede was pleased to be known as “the man who makes the stamps stick,”[63] and the factory crew that turned out as many as a million pounds of glue per year adopted the slogan “Licked By All Yet Licked By None.”[64]

Other Enterprises

The Victor G. Bloede Company may have been Bloede’s flagship enterprise, but he was also involved in numerous other undertakings, most of which centered around Catonsville, Maryland, a rural community in Baltimore County roughly nine miles west of the center of Baltimore City. When Bloede settled in Catonsville, residents of downtown Baltimore knew the town primarily as the site of the cottages to which they retreated during the summer heat.[65] But Bloede envisioned a commuter community of permanent residents who enjoyed the conveniences of city living in a suburban setting. Since those conveniences were lacking when Bloede arrived, he arranged for them himself. During the five decades that he lived in the area, Bloede provided the community with real-estate development, a trolley line, a water system, electricity, and a bank.

When Bloede settled in Catonsville, he founded Eden Construction Company (1892), a real-estate development company that sub-divided his seventy-two-acre property and developed year-round houses.[66] Fifty-six lots were laid off at “Eden Terrace.” Bloede's company built some houses, but he also sold lots to others who wished to build their own houses.[67] Several members of Bloede's family wound up living in Eden Terrace, but others unconnected to Bloede settled in the attractive development as well. The neighborhood still exists today, although part of it was demolished in the 1950s during the construction of the Baltimore Beltway (I-695).[68]

The centerpiece of the development was “Arden,” Bloede's own home. In 1883, while on a business trip to Toledo, Ohio, Bloede had met Elise Schon. Like Bloede, she was the child of parents who had emigrated from Germany to America.[69] They were married in 1883, and their five children grew up at Arden. The house was designed by Bloede’s father-in-law.[70] The imposing structure featured a tower at one corner, a drive-through portico before the front door, wrap-around porches highlighted by ornamental woodwork, and a variety of roofs over different sections of the house. A 1995 writer described the house as “bizarre,” but it no doubt represented the height of Victorian fashion when it was constructed.[71] When the house burned down in 1922,[72] Bloede built a much less distinctive but equally impressive replacement structure. When developers threatened Bloede’s second house in 2008, the local community responded with protest. Unfortunately, efforts at landmark preservation failed,[73] and the home was demolished in 2011.[74]

When transportation between Catonsville and another rural town farther west became an issue, Bloede joined others to found the Edmonson Avenue, Catonsville and Ellicott City Electric Railway Company (1892) to connect with a trolley line running west from the center of Baltimore City toward Catonsville.[75] Bloede’s name also became associated with other efforts to transform nascent electric trolley systems in urban centers into city-to-city systems.[76] It appears, however, that little came from these efforts. Bloede’s involvement in his own local system also brought him into the public arena as an advocate for lower fares on the Baltimore-Catonsville trolley.[77]

As the population of the Catonsville area grew, Bloede joined with other local businessmen to found the First National Bank of Catonsville (1897). The initial capitalization was $50,000 (approximately $1.36 million in 2010)[78]. Bloede served as director or president, or both, for most of the rest of his life. The bank headquarters building still stands in Catonsville.[79]

When electricity became common in other areas, “the people of the Catonsville section of Baltimore County were constantly agitating for the question of securing electric lighting [ . . . ].”[80] However, they were unsuccessful. Electric utilities were still developing their networks, and they generally favored densely populated areas over relatively low-density areas like Catonsville or the undeveloped expanses of western Baltimore City. In his typical fashion, Bloede met the need head on, joining forces with several others to found the Patapsco Electric and Manufacturing Company (1900). The firm built a generating plant on the Patapsco River, west of Catonsville.[81] Several years later it built a “submarine plant” elsewhere on the Patapsco to generate hydroelectric power.[82] This dam – subsequently known as Bloede's Dam – was an engineering sensation when it was constructed, and Bloede was rightly proud of it:

[The dam is] unique in the annals of hydraulic engineering, in that it is hollow, forming a chamber or tunnel underneath the bed of the river, in which the entire machinery and power development is located. At the time of its erection, we believe, it was the first of its kind in the world, and as stated, a new departure in hydraulic engineering. It has been described and illustrated in many scientific and engineering journals, both in this country and Europe, and many noted hydraulic engineers from all parts of the world have visited it as representing one of the wonders of progress in modern power development.[83]

The innovative dam generated power until 1924, when it was mothballed, but it has remained a featured landmark along hiking trails established by a state park in the area. The dam still existed in early 2012, although plans were being made to demolish the structure to re-open the river to fish migrations.[84]

Although his electric company was merely a sideline, it absorbed Bloede for years in a public battle with the government of the City of Baltimore and the city’s major gas-electric utility. Because the Consolidated Gas Electric Light and Power Company of Baltimore did not provide electric service in the western reaches of the city when Patapsco Electric began operating across the city line in the county, Patapsco started stringing wires into the city around 1903. The operation was apparently approved by city officials, but without a formal charter awarded by the city government. When the Consolidated objected to competition in their exclusive territory, Bloede purchased rights under an existing but moribund charter granted years before to an earlier Consolidated competitor. Payments to the owners of the earlier charter forced Patapsco to increase its charges for its power, and although Bloede disliked the legal subterfuge, the arrangement gave Patapsco a bridgehead from which it might expand if the city government ever allowed competition within the city.

The wrangling over the “Bloede ordinance” went on for years – it was conducted in newspapers, before the state Public Service Commission, in the state legislature, and in the Baltimore City Council. Bribery was alleged, one city councilman denounced a colleague as a liar during a public meeting, and at one point a grand jury looked into various accusations.[85] Bloede’s contribution to the debate was a twenty-two-page pamphlet in which he denounced the Consolidated and pointed to the lower-cost energy that Patapsco promised to deliver.

Lower prices through competition may have been attractive, but the city was apprehensive. Years earlier, Baltimore had repeatedly had its streets and alleys torn up by several small gas and electric utilities operating in the same geographic areas, and the city had fostered the merger of the competing outfits into the Consolidated to end the disruptions. Furthermore, Bloede had to contend with the fact that the established utility naturally had a number of well-established, politically influential supporters.[86] The “Bloede ordinance” was never passed, and eventually Bloede had to admit defeat. He sold the Patapsco to the Consolidated in 1913 for $425,000[87] (approximately $9.65 million in 2010).

With regard to other essential services: Bloede provided water for his Eden Terrace development from a spring on the property,[88] but water service in the larger Catonsville/West Baltimore area was inadequate. Consequently, in 1910 Bloede established the Avalon Waterworks along the Patapsco River to provide water to parts of Baltimore City and Baltimore and Howard counties.[89]

Bloede enjoyed nature more than one might expect of someone raised in Brooklyn, and the farm he bought in 1912 was an expression of that sentiment. The property was located in Anne Arundel County, some seventeen miles from Catonsville, and it was an actual working farm. Tobacco was a major crop, and there were horses, cows, chickens, turkeys, sheep, and pigs as well. Bloede never worked the farm himself – that was left to resident farmhands – but he and one of his sons oversaw activity on the property. Additionally, Bloede and other members of his family visited the farm frequently to help with farm chores as a form of recreation. The property was held by the family until it was swallowed up during the expansion of nearby Fort Meade during World War II.[90]

Not everything that Bloede touched was a success. An exclusive association with a textile firm in Wilmington, Delaware, that gave great currency to Bloede's sun-fast dyes dissolved into acrimony, recriminations, and mutual lawsuits.[91] In addition, there were occasional legal tangles of the type encountered by anyone involved in managing a large and active business.

One particular legal predicament deserves notice, however, since it represented the greatest embarrassment Bloede ever endured. In 1908, he was indicted along with a U.S. Treasury Department employee and charged with paying kickbacks to the employee on a contract for ink used to print currency.[92] The indictment sprang from a 1901 arrangement whereby the Treasury Department employee – in Bloede's account – assisted Bloede in compounding improved black ink. When the employee asked Bloede for compensation for work done on his own time, Bloede demurred, explaining that the Secretary of the Treasury had to approve the royalty. Bloede subsequently insisted that the then-secretary had indeed approved the arrangement; for his part, the Treasury Department employee claimed to have recused himself from the competition in which Bloede won the ink contract.

The indictment generated unpleasant headlines when the arrangement was exposed several years later.[93] Bloede and the Treasury employee both initially pleaded not guilty, but both subsequently changed their pleas to a reduced charge, and each paid a substantial fine – in Bloede's case, with five new $1,000 bills[94] ($5,000 in 1908 is equivalent to roughly $122,000 in 2010). Bloede and his lawyer both gave newspaper interviews in which they insisted that the matter had amounted to a mere technical violation of the law[95] – and perhaps they had even convinced themselves of that. The inappropriateness of the arrangement, however, is manifest, particularly given the fact that Bloede's payments to the Treasury Department employee had apparently amounted to some $25,000. Bloede's uncharacteristic involvement in such an affair seems even more bizarre in light of the fact that he himself had been a principal complainant only a few years earlier (1897) when corrupt Post Office officials had cheated him out of a contract for ink used to produce postmarks.[96]

The case nagged at Bloede, and he even returned to it nearly twenty years later, asking a prosecutor to acknowledge that the incident had involved no moral turpitude on his part. For his trouble, Bloede received an indulgent letter acknowledging that there was at least an argument to be made for Bloede’s point of view. Whether Bloede’s conscience was salved by the review is unclear.[97]

The guilty plea may have bothered Bloede, but the rest of the world seemed to attribute little significance to it. Shortly after Bloede paid his fine, a civic celebration in honor of one of his charitable endeavors was attended by virtually every business and civic leader in Baltimore whose opinion might have mattered to him. With his legal difficulties behind him, Bloede resumed his customary role as a respected business and community leader and served as such until his death in Catonsville in 1937. His widow inherited his interest in the Victor G. Bloede Company, which had affiliated with Le Page’s Glue in 1930; stock in Bloede’s other enterprises was left to his children.[98] The Bloede Company continued to operate in Baltimore for several decades after Bloede’s death, first as part of LePage’s, later as a division of National Starch. In 2012, new construction covered part of the Bloede manufacturing site in southwest Baltimore; the remainder reveals only the foundations of some of Bloede’s former buildings, now overgrown with vegetation.[99]

Social Status, Networks, Family and Public Life

Victor Gustav Bloede’s social status can best be understood by examining the five overlapping worlds in which he lived – family, business, science, public affairs, and community.

The five children born to Victor and Elise Bloede – Marie (born 1884), Carl S. (1885), Ilse (1888), Victor (1894), and Vida (1896) – were raised at Arden, in Catonsville. The elegantly landscaped estate afforded ample room for play and exploration, and included, among other highlights, a grand view of the Maryland countryside from the building’s tower, ponds for swimming or ice-skating, horses and donkeys for riding, a tennis court, and a grand piano in a music room. A staff of governesses, household servants, and a gardener tended to the family and the property.[100] The family traveled widely, both domestically and abroad, and their comings and goings were frequently noted in local newspapers.[101]

The children were educated by European governesses and in private schools. The boys attended university (MIT, Lehigh, and the University of Maryland) and wound up working for various Bloede enterprises. Interestingly, each son married a secretary that he met at the Victor G. Bloede Company. Marie married William W. Woollcott, a noted Baltimore raconteur and member of H.L. Mencken’s famous Saturday Night Club. The couple settled at Eden Terrace, and Woollcott worked for his father-in-law's firm. Ilse, who never married, spent several years in Europe studying music, and later appeared on stage in New York. In later years, she engaged in charitable work in New York and Baltimore. Vida married a son of one of the “big four” physicians who founded Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Hospital; when she later divorced, she operated an apple orchard and cider mill on the farm her father had given her as a wedding present.[102]

One granddaughter, Barbara Woollcott, penned an affectionate – although somewhat exaggerated – description of her Gopapa:

[He] was the old-fashioned, pioneer, rags-to-riches type of businessman, who was supporting his mother and countless younger brothers and sisters at eleven, was a struggling junior executive at fifteen, and well on his way to being a wealthy and important personage by the time he was twenty [ . . . ]. A kind of aura of respectability and position breathed out from him wherever he went. Business associates recognized it. Waiters, though they might never have seen him before, scurried to give him the best of everything. So did porters on trains, redcaps in stations. Even his family bowed, from time to time, to his respectability."[103]

Bloede’s family held him in obvious esteem but also played to his sense of humor. When he brought his children and grandchildren together for a holiday on Martha's Vineyard, and the various family units wore on each other's nerves, Bloede began to refer to the vacation property as “House of Shattered Dreams.” The family responded by ordering stationery for Bloede with that inscription printed at the top.[104] When he insisted that his grandchildren speak German at meals, they responded by casting their comments as quotations from English-speaking neighbors.[105] When Bloede once impulsively promised a generous bonus to the grandchild who produced his first great-grandchild, one granddaughter asked, “Does it have to be legitimate?”[106]

Bloede’s connections in the business world developed gradually. His first entrepreneurial ventures were his New York business for photography-related chemicals and his bromine operation in Pomeroy, Ohio, both of which were small undertakings that he financed through his earnings as a chemist in Brooklyn, his profits from various patent licenses (he held five patents by the time he went to Pomeroy), and royalties from The Reducer’s Manual. Presumably, he was initially a minority partner in Bloede & Rathbone, becoming a principal at least as much for his expertise as for the capital he contributed. In order to rebuild their facility after the 1877 fire, Bloede sought loans from capitalists in New York and Boston.[107] Apparently, the success that Bloede & Rathbone experienced in the period between 1877 and the flood of 1884 convinced these financiers that Bloede’s subsequent ventures were also worthy of investment: the names of New Yorkers, Bostonians, and Baltimoreans turn up frequently as minority investors in Bloede’s numerous undertakings after his move to Baltimore.[108] Bloede certainly cultivated those connections, participating with other businessmen in joint economic-development activities[109] and occasionally taking a minority position or a directorship in enterprises headed by others.[110] His work as a banker in Catonsville contributed to his visibility in the Baltimore business community. In those businesses noted above, however, Bloede himself was generally the principal investor, financing most of his operations with his own (by now considerable) resources.

Bloede’s chemistry was not theoretical: he was the producer of commercial products, not an academic researcher. Yet he was also a respected and active participant in the broader chemistry community. The laboratory in his southwest Baltimore plant was staffed by a number of chemists, and Bloede himself was in the lab until only a few days before his death. He was a founding member of The Chemists’ Club of New York (1898), and occasionally an officer.[111] In 1916, he joined the American Chemical Society, which published an admiring profile of him in one of its journals in 1926.[112] He was among a delegation of American chemists invited to England in 1905 by the British Society of Chemical Industry.[113] His eminence in starch chemistry has been noted above, and his insights and accomplishments were such that even academic researchers welcomed his acquaintance and were regular correspondents.

Perhaps because of his father’s work as a political journalist, Bloede demonstrated an early interest in public affairs: for instance, when Bloede was only thirteen, he and his sisters sent congratulations to Abraham Lincoln on the Emancipation Proclamation. In maturity, Bloede was mentioned as a potential political candidate on at least one occasion,[114] but he had no apparent interest in elective politics. He did, however, speak out regularly on public issues. His battle with the Baltimore city government over the Patapsco Electric and Manufacturing Company has been noted above. Additionally, from time to time, he joined with other manufacturers to provide testimony to various tariff commissions and committees.[115] When gasoline was introduced as “the poor man’s fuel” and gasoline-fueled kitchen stoves experienced a brief period of popularity, Bloede stepped forward as an expert on hazardous substances to denounce these dangerous appliances.[116] A 1911 trip to Mexico resulted in newspaper stories that quoted Bloede’s assessment of the revolution underway in that country.[117] When self-appointed patriots began hunting for disloyal German-Americans at the start of World War I, Bloede forcefully dismissed their efforts in public denunciations of the militaristic, autocratic homeland that had once threatened his father and driven Bloede himself to America.[118]

Bloede’s various business enterprises were aimed at meeting the needs of his community, including both his customers and his neighbors. But he also realized that the community’s needs could not always be met through business undertakings, and, for this reason, he eventually became known as much for his charitable donations as for his business activities.

In the 1890s, Bloede acquired a plot of ground near Catonsville and founded the Hollywood Children’s Summer Home, a place where children from densely packed Baltimore row house neighborhoods could enjoy several weeks of summer camp. Staff ran the camp, but Bloede visited regularly, bringing toys and his younger children with him. He also staged annual amateur theatricals as fundraisers, frequently casting himself and his wife in leading roles in farces, at least one of which he wrote himself.[119]

Tuberculosis – “the white plague” – had scourged mankind since ancient times, but medical advances in the late nineteenth century had led to the widespread introduction of sanatoria that treated victims and limited the spread of the infection. At the start of the twentieth century, Bloede was recruited to a committee of leading citizens to develop a sanatorium for Baltimore. With characteristic thoroughness, he researched the design and management of an appropriate facility,[120] and with characteristic generosity he donated $25,000 toward the construction of a hospital building. The Marie Bloede Memorial Hospital opened in 1908. It was named for Bloede’s mother, who had herself died of tuberculosis in 1870 at age fifty.[121] The dedication ceremony was attended by the governor of Maryland, the mayor of Baltimore, and a constellation of civic leaders.[122] Bloede’s involvement with the institution ended only with his death: a chronicler of the facility notes that “Mr. Bloede spent as much time [there] as he possibly could [ . . . ] and was a frequent visitor to the wards and rooms to talk to the patients and watch over their well being.”[123]

In 1914, Bloede donated his childhood home to the Brooklyn Bureau of Charities as a base for social work with the blind. The home became the Marie Bloede Memorial Workshops for the Blind. He also bought and donated the house next door. Later, he bought a summer camp for the group, and he regularly attended meetings of the board that governed activities at these facilities.[124]

In 1916, Bloede endowed The Chemists’ Club of New York with $10,000 (approximately $205,000 in 2010) to establish a scholarship for students in industrial chemistry or chemical engineering, the two fields in which Bloede made his career.[125] Five years later, in 1921, Bloede demonstrated his gratitude to Peter Cooper by donating a chemistry laboratory and equipment to Cooper Union.[126] In 1923, Bloede became the largest contributor to the West Baltimore General Hospital, which was founded to meet the needs of the growing population of the western sections of Baltimore City and the Catonsville area. He also served as the hospital’s first president.[127]

Conclusion

There is little doubt that Victor Gustav Bloede would have led a successful life had he grown up in Germany. His parents certainly would have provided as thorough an education for their only son in Germany as that which he acquired through the generosity of Peter Cooper in America – and, given Germany’s preeminence in chemistry in the late nineteenth century, his German education in his chosen field would likely have been superior to the one he acquired in the United States. Whether his abilities would have been so amply rewarded financially in Germany is an open question.

But it is pointless to speculate about whether things might have turned out differently, especially given the fact that they actually turned out so well. The financial circumstances of Bloede’s American childhood might have been strained, but he profited from the example of his immigrant parents. Just as his parents had dared to seek out new lives for themselves in the New World, Bloede had no fear of transplanting himself when opportunity demanded it – to Ohio, to West Virginia, to Maryland. Just as his father had accepted the necessity of transforming himself from lawyer to doctor to journalist, and just as his mother realized that she needed to expand her literary work beyond her native tongue, Bloede knew that he had to undertake whatever activity seemed necessary to accomplish his goals – whether it was clerking in an office, studying, working as a chemist, or engaging as a businessman in a variety of fields. And finally, just as his parents had established themselves in a social circle drawn from a wider world than their Brooklyn neighborhood – political, literary, artistic – Bloede was open to collaboration with a variety of others. From a very early age, his ability to accomplish difficult and complex tasks defined his role in society, and his technical insights and organizational ability brought him financial rewards that he used for the benefit not just of his family but of the various communities to which he belonged. His name is little remembered today except by specialists in his particular fields of chemistry and by residents of Catonsville, but he did well not only for himself but also for the many who were touched by his energy and ability.

Notes

[1] Victor C. Bloede, The Journey: Victor G. Bloede, His Forebears and Successors (Baltimore, MD: Gateway Press, 1996), 17.

[2] Ibid., 32.

[3] Ibid., 33.

[4] A.E. Zucker, ed., The Forty-Eighters: Political Refugees of the German Revolution of 1848 (New York, NY: Russell & Russell, 1950, 1967), 280.

[5] Diether Raff, A History of Germany: From the Medieval Empire to the Present, translated by Bruce Little (New York, NY: Berg, 1988), 79-81.

[6] Berthold Litzmann, ed., Clara Schumann: An Artist’s Life, Based on Material Found in Diaries and Letters, translated and abridged by Grace E. Hadow (London: Macmillan & Co., 1913), 449-53.

[7] Mike Rapport, 1848: Year of Revolution (New York, NY: Basic Books, 2008), 343, and E.H. Carr, Michael Bakunin (London: Macmillan and Co., 1937), 190-91.

[8] Zucker, The Forty-Eighters, 280.

[9] Richard Wagner, My Life, translated by Andrew Gray and edited by Mary Whittall (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1973), 365.

[10] Zucker, The Forty-Eighters, 280.

[11] Dieter Lange, “Language, Patriotism, and Poetry: How Gertrude Bloede became an American,” Max Kade Institute Friends Newsletter (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Volume 14, Number 4 (Winter 2005): 5.

[12] Bloede, The Journey, 38-42.

[13] See, for example, “The Germans,” New York Times, October 19, 1872, 10.

[14] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 19, 1861, 1.

[15] Bloede, The Journey, 42.

[16] Victor Gustav Bloede’s three sisters were: first, Gertrude, born in 1845 in Dresden. She never married. She became a well-regarded poet before her death in 1905, publishing widely in hardcover, in newspapers, and in literary journals, generally under the nom de plume of Stuart Sterne. One of her works – Pero Da Castiglione (Houghton, Mifflin, 1890) – is dedicated to her brother. Second, Kate, born in 1846 in Dresden. She married the painter Abbott H. Thayer, some of whose best-known works feature his wife and their three children. Kate died in 1891. Third, Indiana Bloede, born in 1854 in New York. She married Samuel Thomas King, a doctor, and they lived in Brooklyn and on Long Island. She died in 1936. For further information on the Bloede sisters, see Bloede, The Journey, 64-119.

[17] Ibid., 38.

[18] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, September 6, 1878.

[19] Men of Mark in Maryland: Johnson’s Makers of America Series – Biographies of Leading Men of the State, volume II (Baltimore: B.F. Johnson, Inc., 1910), 232.

[20] Bloede, The Journey, 120-31.

[21] Ibid., 32.

[22] Miriam Gurko, The Lives and Times of Peter Cooper (New York, NY: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1959), 168.

[23] Edward C. Mack, Peter Cooper: Citizen of New York (New York, NY: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1949), 267.

[24] Trustees of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, The Seventh Annual Report (New York: John F. Trow & Co., Printers, 1866), 9.

[25] Mitsuko Brooks, Archives Assistant, Cooper Union, e-mail message to author, November 7, 2011.

[26] Mack, Peter Cooper, 267.

[27] Men of Mark, 232.

[28] Elmer S. Greensfelder, “American Contemporaries: Victor G. Bloede,” Industrial and Engineering Chemistry (July 1926), 755-56; and Men of Mark, 232-33.

[29] “Bloede’s Mucilage,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 29, 1867.

[30] Bloede, The Journey, 137-40.

[31] Victor G. Bloede, The Reducer’s Manual and Gold and Silver Worker’s Guide, Being a complete,practical Hand-Book on the saving and reduction of every class of PHOTOGRAPHIC WASTES, and GOLD AND SILVER RESIDUES (New York, NY: Joseph H. Ladd, Publisher and London: Trubner & Co., 1867).

[32] Men of Mark, 232-33; and Bloede, The Journey, 142-49.

[33] Bloede, The Journey, 142-48.

[34] Victor G. Bloede, “Some Early Attempts to Establish the Aniline Industry in the United States,” Industrial and Engineering Chemistry (April 1924): 409-11, here 410.

[35] Ibid., 409.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Ibid., 410.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Ibid., 409.

[40] Ibid., 410.

[41] Ibid., 410-11.

[42] Ibid., 411.

[43] Bloede, The Journey, 149.

[44]West Virginia Dye Industry,” (accessed February 8, 2012).

[45] Bloede, “Some Early Attempts,” 411.

[46] Bloede, The Journey, 158.

[47] Bulletin of the National Research Council, December 1921, 14.

[48] “Dying Plant Wrecked When Swept by Blaze,” Baltimore Sun, July 10, 1921, 18.

[49] The American Printer, May 5, 1916, 76; and The Iron Age, April 24, 1930, 1271.

[50] “The National Exposition of Chemical Industries at the Grand Central Palace,” Metallurgical and Chemical Engineering (October 1, 1917): 421.

[51] Paper Trade Journal (May 7, 1931): 48.

[52] “Jayne & Sidebottom, Inc.,” Color Trade Journal (April 1922): 149.

[53] Bloede, The Journey, 491-506.

[54] Ibid., 192-93.

[55] Ibid., 194.

[56] Ibid., 504.

[57] Washington Platt and Ross A. Baker, “The Relation of the Scientific ‘Hunch’ to Research,” Journal of Chemical Education (October 1931): 1969-2002, here 1978.

[58] Lee T. Smith and S.G. Morris, “Dextrinization of POTATO STARCH with Gaseous Hydrogen Chloride,” Industrial and Engineering Chemistry (November 1944): 1052.

[59] For example, Victor G. Bloede, “Gums and Dextrines. An Address Delivered Before the American Envelope Manufacturers’ Association” (New York, NY: American Envelope Manufacturers’ Association, 1914).

[60] Robert P. Walton, ed. and compiler, A Comprehensive Survey of Starch Chemistry, volume 1 (New York, NY: The Chemical Catalog Company, 1928).

[61] Dr. J.R. Katz, “Thin-Boiling and Oxidized Starches,” Textile Research Journal (February 1939): 146-54.

[62] Lee T. Smith and R.M. Hamilton, “Starch Adhesives,” Chemical and Engineering News (September 10, 1944): 1482-84, 1494-96.

[63] “The Man Who Makes the Stamps Stick,” Baltimore Sun Magazine, April 21, 1929, 12.

[64] Paul Fleming, “Licked By All Yet Licked By None,” Baltimore Sun Magazine, November 6, 1955, 5-6.

[65] Edward Orser and Joseph Arnold, Catonsville, 1880 to 1940: From Village to Suburb (Norfolk, Virginia: The Donning Company/Publishers, 1989), 21.

[66] “Suburban Improvement at Catonsville,” Baltimore Sun, March 28, 1892, 6.

[67] Orser and Arnold, Catonsville, 38.

[68] Ibid., 39.

[69] Bloede, The Journey, 150, 158-61.

[70] Ibid., 172.

[71] Orser and Arnold, Catonsville, 39.

[72] “V.G. BLOEDE’S HOME DESTROYED BY FIRE,” Baltimore Sun, December 23, 1922, 20.

[73] David Marks, “BCHT UNVEILS 2009 ENDANGERED PROPERTIES LIST,” (accessed December 3, 2011).

[75] Laws of the State of Maryland Made and Passed at a Session of the General Assembly Begun and Held at the City of Annapolis on the Sixth Day of January, 1892, and Ended on the Fourth Day of April, 1892 [volume 397 of the Archives of Maryland] (Annapolis, MD: C.H. Baughman & Co., State Printers, 1892), 461-65.

[76] “BALTIMORE, MD.,” Engineering News, April 20, 1893, 382.

[77] “Now Working for Reduced Fares,” Baltimore Sun, January 18, 1902, 6; “Commuters File Protest,” Baltimore Sun, November 24, 1910, 8; and “Commuters Meet in Protest,” Baltimore Sun, November 26, 1910, 9.

[78] All current values (in 2010 USD) are based on Samuel H. Williamson, “Seven Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a U.S. Dollar Amount, 1774 to present,” MeasuringWorth, 2011, using the Consumer Price Index.

[79] “Bank for Catonsville,” Baltimore Sun, August 12, 1897, 8; and Bloede, The Journey, 205-11.

[80] Victor G. Bloede, To His Honor, James H. Preston Mayor and the Honorable City Council of the City of Baltimore: A Short History of the Patapsco Electric and Mfg. Co. WHAT IT IS, WHAT IT HAS ACCOMPLISHED, WHAT IT IS ASKING, WHAT IT PROMISES TO DO (Baltimore, MD: The Patapsco Electric and Mfg. Co., 1912), 3.

[81] “Howard County: Important Enterprise Projected At The Old Gray’s Factory,” Baltimore Sun, March 11, 1901, 9; and “ELECTRIC LIGHTING: New Plant Put Into Operation At Ellicott City,” Baltimore Sun, April 27, 1902, 9.

[82] “TURBINE PLANT OPENED,” Baltimore Sun, November 29, 1908, 8.

[83] Bloede, To His Honor, 4.

[84]Simkins Dam,” (accessed February 16, 2012).

[85] For example, see Baltimore Sun articles on February 22, 1910 (page 14), May 31, 1910 (page 14), June 5, 1910 (page 16), June 9, 1910 (page 14), July 10, 1910 (page 16), and May 8, 1912 (page 7).

[86] For a discussion of utility competition in Baltimore, see Thomson King, Consolidated of Baltimore, 1816-1950 (Baltimore, MD: Consolidated Gas Electric Light and Power Company of Baltimore, 1950), 86-91, 94-95, 108-9, 142-43, 156-57.

[87] “BLOEDE TO GET $425,000,” Baltimore Sun, March 22, 1913, 11.

[88] Bloede, The Journey, 172-73.

[89] Ibid., 258-59.

[90] Ibid., 259-66.

[91] Ibid., 198-202; Stephanie Holyfield (University of Delaware), “The Blode [sic] Affair,” e-mail message to author, January 19, 2012.

[92] An excellent summary of the case can be found in the ruling delivered in a related lawsuit, Lewis v. Bloede, which appears in The Federal Reporter, volume 202 (St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Company, 1913), 7-25.

[93] For example, see “Mr. V.G. Bloede Indicted,” Baltimore Sun, January 7, 1908, 7.

[94] “Mr. Bloede Pays $5,000,” Baltimore Sun, September 5, 1908, 2.

[95] “Mr. Bloede Explains the Case,” Baltimore Sun, September 5, 1908, 2; and “Case of Mr. Bloede,” Baltimore Sun, December 16, 1908, 8.

[96] Memorandum of the President and Report of Fourth Assistant Postmaster-General J.L. Bristow on the Investigation of Certain Divisions of the Post-Office Department (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1903), 13-19.

[97] Bloede, The Journey, 218-27.

[98] Ibid., 415; and “Widow Gets Bulk of Bloede Estate,” BaltimoreSun, April 2, 1937.

[99] Maryland Department of the Environment, “Site Inspection of the Bloede Manufacturing Property, Baltimore City (MD-466),” volume 1, October, 1995, 5-7.

[100] Bloede, The Journey, 308-13.

[101] See, for example, “Suburban Personals,” Baltimore Sun, March 16, 1902, 8; “Had Trip of His Life,” Baltimore Sun, August 24, 1905, 7; “Mr. Victor G. Bloede Home,” Baltimore Sun, May 19, 1907, 9; “Returning From Trip Abroad,” Baltimore Sun, July 16, 1911, WS1; “Home From Sea and Mountain, “ Baltimore Sun, September 22, 1912, 18; “Miss Bloede Returns Home,” Baltimore Sun, April 6, 1914, 14.

[102] Bloede, The Journey, 365-90.

[103] Barbara Woollcott, None but a Mule (New York, NY: The Viking Press, 1944), 20 and 126.

[104] Ibid., 20-21.

[105] Bloede, The Journey, 317.

[106] Woollcott, None but a Mule, 28.

[107] Bloede, The Journey, 149.

[108] For example, see the notice of the incorporation of the Caton Manufacturing Company in The American Stationer (January 17, 1895): 103, and the notice about the Patapsco Electric and Manufacturing Company in the Baltimore Sun (“Howard County – Important Enterprise Projected at the Old Gray’s Factory”), March 11, 1901, 9.

[109] “An Improvement Association’s Officers,” Baltimore Sun, March 18, 1891, 6.

[110] For example, see “New Plant at Walbrook,” Baltimore Sun, August 5, 1908, 12; and “Savings Bank for the West End,” Baltimore Sun, September 2, 1909, 7.

[111] Bloede, The Journey, 291-98.

[112] Greensfelder, “American Contemporaries,” 755-56.

[113] “Had Trip of His Life,” Baltimore Sun, August 24, 1905, 7.

[114] “In Suburbs and County,” Baltimore Sun, June 25, 1907, 9.

[115] For examples, see “The Tariff Commission,” New York Times, July 27, 1882, 2; and United States Congress, House of Representatives, Committee on Ways and Means, Tariff Hearings Before the Committee on Ways and Means, Sixtieth Congress, 1908-1909, volume IV (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1909), 4273.

[116] “Mr. V.G. Bloede’s Views,” Baltimore Sun, October 17, 1904, 12.

[117] “Revolution Not a Joke,” Baltimore Sun, February 28, 1911, 9; and “Sympathy with Rebels,” Baltimore Sun, March 19, 1911, 2.

[118] “Bloede Scores Germany,” Baltimore Sun, June 1, 1917, 4; and “Pro-Germans in Baltimore,” Baltimore Sun, October 2, 1917, 5.

[119] Bloede, The Journey, 317-24; “Entertainment for Hollywood Home,” Baltimore Sun, April 13, 1898, 7; “To Provide Summer Outings,” Baltimore Sun, December 5, 1902, 7; “Outings for Children,” Baltimore Sun, June 11, 1908, 7.

[120] Victor G. Bloede, “A Comprehensive Plan for the Treatment of the Tuberculosis Problem” in Transactions of the Sixth International Congress on Tuberculosis (Philadelphia, PA: William F. Fell Company, 1908), volume 3, 398-405.

[121] Lange, “Language, Patriotism, and Poetry,” p. 12.

[122] “Started on Noble Work,” Baltimore Sun, November 11, 1908, 12.

[123] Harold A. Williams, A History of Eudowood Sanatorium, 1894-1964 (n.p.: n.p., n.d.), 55.

[124] Bloede, The Journey, 267-90; “Blind to Have New ‘Light House’ Here,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 28, 1914, 3; “Academy to be Scene of Annual Play for Blind,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 19, 1930, A 16; “Brooklyn Notes,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 14, 1946, 18.

[125] Bloede, The Journey, 291-98; “The Bloede and the Hoffman Scholarships of The Chemists’ Club,” The Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry (July 1919): 699.

[126] Bloede, The Journey, 298-300; Greensfelder, “American Contemporaries,” 756.

[127] Bloede, The Journey, 300-03; “West Baltimore Will Have Hospital,” Baltimore Sun, September 2, 1923, 2; “Dedication Service Held for Hospital,” Baltimore Sun, June 13, 1924, 6.

 

Cite this Entry

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"Victor Gustav Bloede." (2014) In Immigrant Entrepreneurship, Retrieved October 21, 2014, from Immigrant Entrepreneurship: http://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entry.php?rec=132

Chicago Style

Earle, W.H.. "Victor Gustav Bloede." In Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present, vol. 3, edited by Giles R. Hoyt. German Historical Institute. Last modified August 28, 2014. http://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entry.php?rec=132

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"Victor Gustav Bloede," Immigrant Entrepreneurship, 2014, Immigrant Entrepreneurship. 21 Oct 2014 <http://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entry.php?rec=132>

Portrait of Victor Gustav Bloede, ca. 1900

  • Bloede’s Dam on the Patapsco River near Ilchester, MD, ca. 1907
  • Electricity-generating turbines inside Bloede’s Dam on the Patapsco River near Ilchester, MD
  • Arden, Victor Bloede’s house, at Eden Terrace, in Catonsville, MD
  • The former headquarters of the First National Bank of Catonsville, MD, 1975

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